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21/01/2013 at 10:38

Hi there, (from deepest France)

like most gardeners I'm itching to get started with my seed setting, but although our summers are warmer than where we came from in Lincolnshire the winters are a bit colder (minus18 for a week last winter). I have a series of compost bins and therefore generate plenty of the good stuff, is this only good as a soil conditioner or can I use it as a seed and cutting compost, if so how do I mix it?

Looking forward to hearing from you,

cheers,

Ken S...

21/01/2013 at 10:46

It is best used as a soil conditioner

Unless it has reached a very high temperature there are still likely to be dormant weed seed just itching to grow as well-much better to buy a proprietary medium that has been sterilised for such use.

You also don't know what nutritional value the garden compost has-not that is so vital for the first stage-sowing seed- but is for potting on/pricking out

Dig in and spread garden compost on the beds is my advice

21/01/2013 at 11:25

Hello Kenneth. I live in Dordogne. I put my compost on the garden and buy sterile compost for sowing my seeds. I use the supermarket compost (Leclerc) but if you need it for re-potting I add a bit of organic fertiliser. The garden centre compost (Jardiland) is a lot pricier. So I agree with Geoff above. I don't sow seeds until March. It's warmer here than in the UK so they catch up quickly. We can still get very cold weather in Feb and March and, unless you have a heated greenhouse, you need somewhere safe to put them once they've germinated.

21/01/2013 at 11:27

Ken, Geoff is correct in what he says and your own compost can be used for potting on, enhancing the soil when planting new plants or as a mulch, it does contain goodness and will not come amiss.
Being taught to garden when bespoke seed mediums did not exist we did use our own composts and soil to set seed. Plus of course leaf mould. We used various means of sterilising the soil and they did work, from using a home made steamer, Jeye's fluid, a bucket on the bonfire ashes with soil in it or today an old micro wave in the garage, put some soil in a plastic container and blast it, works for me.
Seeds do not need nutrient so mixing a third soil, a third washed sand, a third grit will give a good seed compost, sow your seed wet it then put some fine grit on top and that is it.
As soon as the seeds have two true leaves i prick out into half compost half sand and grit mixed then as you pot on compost with some grit mixed in.
Think about it, we all sow seed straight onto a seed bed in the garden which is not sterelised and most come in fact we have to thin them out, self seeders pop up all over the place nature can look after her own, probably we fuss too much.

Frank.

22/01/2013 at 13:08

Hi there,

thanks to Busy-Lizzie,Geoff and Frank the info was very welcome, specially the bit about the micro-wave I was looking at our old one stuck in my workshop and thinking a trip to the tip was in order but now I think I'll take it down to the greenhouse and give it a whirl, nothing ventured nothing gained?

We live in Deux Sevre, not quite so deep France as the Dordogne, the soil is so water-logged I've not been on it, other than on boards, for at least 2 months, but I'm lucky in that apart from the "oblgatory barn" the greenhouse came with the property and at 15 x 45 metres it is big enough for me to enjoy my days no matter what the weather..

Cheers for now,

Ken S...

22/01/2013 at 17:48

I agree with the above comments re weed seed being a problem when using homemade compost for anything other than a soil conditioner.....I do rather wonder sometimes when such advocates as Monty D & Carol K recommend it's use so freely, with no reference to the weed seed issue.

I’ve used Formaldehyde as a sterilizer, with varying degrees of success in the past, but have to say that it’s only reasonably effective on some fungal diseases and relatively ineffective against many pests.

 

23/02/2013 at 11:55

Since January I have sown a variety of seeds in the compost, mixed as per Frank's instructions and I've had a very good germination rate, the toms, onions,cabbage,beetroot, morning glory, nigellia have all been moved on to their pots for onward growth and the sweet peas are coming through nicely.

Time now for a quick lunch and back to the greenhouse, no outside work today, the north wind is blowing and there is snow on it.

Cheers for now,

Ken S..

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